Off-island correspondents looking hard for news at the Guam governor's office, but not finding i
Guam Lieutenant Governor Ray Tenorio faced another room full of cameras and reporters at the Adelup offices of Governor Eddie Baza Calvo, but on the day Kim Jong-un had announced he would receive word from his generals on a possible missile launch in Guam's direction, Tenorio had no red meat to offer the newspeople.
And Governor Calvo was in a meeting elsewhere, delegating the briefing job to his number two, normally a suggestion to reporters that not much is going on.
Said Tenorio: "There doesn’t appear to be any indication from what we’re hearing that there’ll be any missiles attacking, at least in the near future or the distant future. There is no change in our threat assessment. We are operating as usual."
George Charfauros, the governor's Homeland Security Advisor, joined Tenorio, assuring that things so far have been calm and the status quo maintained throughout the 'crisis.' He said Guam continued to have confidence in military, presidential assurances and further, that Kim has backed off the earlier threats.
That got some attention from reporters who wanted to know where the 'back off' word had come from: Tammy White of NBC News asked: "Senior U.S. officials are telling NBC they’re not taking Kim’s remarks as backing off. What’s your take on that?"
Tenorio: "I think we look for any indication that he is not going to act on his direction from his generals that the four missiles he threatened to shoot within 30 to 40 kilometers of Guam are not going to be manifested in reality."
But that was hardly enough for CNN's Martin Savidge: "The impression you (Tenorio) gave when you began was that there was some new sort of relief because things have eased, but you don’t officially have that from anyone except the North Korean government.
Tenorio: "The media reports that we’ve been receiving from different sources that I’m sure we can connect you to. This information at least gives us reason to believe Kim Jong-un has kind of paused in his intention of shooting anything in our direction. So we find the silver lining around the cloud and hope that’s an indication that he is pushing off in his intention of firing off any missiles in Guam’s direction. We take information as best we can. As you know, the Pyongyang administration is not exactly as accessible as many other governments in the world. So we take whatever glimmers of hope that he’s toning down that rhetoric and take that for what it’s worth."
Savidge: "But you’re relying on the North Korean government as far as giving us this insight that the situation is relaxing?
The back and forth was a little too much for Governor Calvo's spokesperson Oyaol Ngiraikl.
Ngiraikl: "The situation never increased is the point that we’re trying to make. We’re still at the same threat level, which is normal. There was never an increase in threat level. I don’t know how else to say it. (Savidge I realize that but lt. governor said…). Well there is a relief, because when you consider that for the last several days our media has been bombarded, our homes have been bombarded with news that there’s going to be a missile attack on our island. When you have any sort of relief from that because you have someone now at least saying there’s going to be a pause before something happens, there is relief at that."
Meanwhile, the impact of all this on an island that has become a major league tourist destination, came up again, as Lt. Governor Tenorio knocked down reports that tourists had been leaving Guam in any significant numbers.
“Any place that is a target of military action that would hurt the economy is cause for concern, but we’ve been dealing with the North Korean regime for a while and I think our Japanese tourists mentioned something the other day and the Koreans have been saying the same thing. We’ve been seeing these threats for a long time. Tourists still come to Guam from our source markets and they’re going to continue to come.
We mentioned SARS the other day when the governor was talking about threats to health. Those things are probably a bigger impact to tourism I think than this will be. So I don’t see any dramatic changes in our (tourist) numbers. The planes are still coming in pretty full and tourists and we’re glad of it, because we’re a great destination, but like Israel, you’ve got factions and these things happen that you try to get a handle on and control to the best of your ability. Same thing here."